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Fiscal Fines

What you need to know

If you have been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged offence the fiscal may, in certain circumstances, offer you the opportunity to have the allegation dealt with outside of court and without getting a criminal conviction. The offer will be to allow you to pay a sum of money as a "fiscal fine" or as compensation to someone who was affected by the alleged offence. If you accept the offer, you cannot be prosecuted for the alleged offence.

What can the procurator fiscal offer?

The procurator fiscal can offer a fiscal fine of between £50 and £300. The fiscal can also offer you the opportunity to pay compensation without the case going to court. This is called a compensation offer. The maximum compensation offer is £5000. A combined offer, which contains both a fine and compensation, can also be made. If you are offered one of these, you cannot accept one part and not the other part - you need to decide whether or not to accept the whole offer.

What should I do if I receive an offer?

If you receive an offer from the procurator fiscal you need to decide whether or not to accept it. It is important that you carefully read the offer letter and make your decision as soon as possible. The letter will tell you about the offer, the choices available to you, and what action, if any, you need to take. You will normally have 28 days to make your decision, and you may need to take action within that period. If I decide to accept the offer, what do I do? If you decide to accept the offer, you should make a payment towards it. However, if you do not tell the clerk of court within the period stated in the offer letter, normally 28 days, that you do not accept the offer it will be assumed that you have accepted it.

If I accept the offer, how do I pay?

If the offer is accepted, either by making a payment or by taking no action to reject it, you will be liable to pay the fiscal fine, compensation offer, or combined offer in full. The offer letter will specify the clerk of court to whom payment should be made, and in most cases the offer letter will give you the opportunity to pay by instalments. Action will be taken to enforce the fine if it is not paid.

If I do not want to accept the offer, what do I do?

If you do not want to accept the offer you must contact the clerk of court saying that you do not accept the offer. The offer letter will contain details of how to do this. You must do this within the period specified in the letter, normally 28 days. You will then not be liable to pay the fine or offer. The clerk of court will inform the fiscal that you do not accept the offer and the fiscal will decide what further action to take. This may involve summoning you to appear at court, and if you plead guilty or are found guilty in court a criminal conviction will be recorded against you.

What happens if I do nothing?

If you do nothing, you will be assumed to have accepted the offer. You will then be liable to pay the fiscal fine, compensation offer, or combined offer in full at the instalment rate provided in the offer letter.

What if I did not take action within 28 days to refuse the offer but now wish to do so?

In certain limited circumstances it may be possible to have your acceptance cancelled. This is known as recall. The offer letter will tell you how to apply for recall, or you can ask the clerk of court specified in the offer letter for details. You may also wish to take legal advice.

If I accept an offer, does that count as a previous conviction?

No. Accepted offers are not criminal convictions. However, if you are prosecuted before a court for another offence within two years of accepting an offer, and you are convicted or plead guilty, the court can be told before passing sentence about the offer you accepted.

What if I do not pay the fine?

If an offer of a fiscal fine, compensation offer, or combined offer has been accepted it will be treated as if it had been imposed by a court. Action will be taken to recover the money from you if you do not pay. If you are having difficulty in paying, contact the clerk of court or the Fines Enforcement Officer of the court specified in the offer letter.

Can I get advice from a solicitor about the offer?

Yes, and it may be in your interests to do so. Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be eligible for criminal legal assistance. The Scottish Legal Aid Board has a register of solicitors who provide criminal legal assistance. Further details are also available from the Law Society of Scotland. Or you can contact your local sheriff or Justice of the Peace court, who can provide details of local solicitors offering criminal legal assistance.

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